In the last few months, there were a few back-to-back derailments that raised the issue of safety in Indian Railways. It’s not like this was the first time accidents were taking place – accidents including fires in trains were much more frequent during UPA rule. To give you an example, in 2007-08, 100 derailments took place, highest ever in many years. Railway safety standards have improved considerably, yet much more needs to be done, which is what our new Railways Minister Piyush Goyal is doing.
At a press conference, Piyush Goyal stressed that passenger safety is a pressing and urgent need for the government. He said that the focus of his ministry will continue to be on safety and convenience of passengers. The biggest takeaway from his comments was that the railways will now use space technology to raise safety.
“ISRO, Rail Tech and Indian Railways are looking to work together to see how we can make use of space technology and the needs of the people of India and to make travel safer. The safety in Indian Railways is a very pressing and an urgent need,” he said.
One of the most thriving of initiatives by the Railways that began under Suresh Prabhu was that of making stations WiFi connected. This initiative was moving on a great pace, and Piyush Goyal mentioned that they’re working with Google to enable this facility at 400 stations.
“I have asked RailTech to connect a programme to connect thousands railway station so that we can provide also the villages around the railways station with Wifi connectivity and get rural India connected,” he said.
On the issue of fares, he said: “As we bring in more efficiency and thoughtful ways to raise revenue, it will also ensure for us economical travel in the railways.”
Goyal informed that all Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Travel Ticket Examiners (TTEs) will henceforth have to be in proper uniform while on duty to ensure transparency.
Some of the accidents that took place in recent times were instances of sabotage. The disturbing part is that these accidents seemed to have reached an apogee just a few days before PM Modi inaugurated the bullet train project, and since then they have completely died down. Was there a greater conspiracy behind those accidents or were they actual accidents? Maybe we’ll never know.